Thursday, June 28, 2018

Audiobook Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Title: Providence
Written by: Caroline Kepnes
Published: June 19, 2018 by Lenny (Random House)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping. 

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity. 

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and "fit in" with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away. 

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity--but he's soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected. 

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters' lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

I loved the You duology and I was super excited to check out her new book because it takes places where I live, in Providence. And even though this is a very different book, I was not disappointed. Kepnes really knows how to write an engaging book with complex characters.

What I loved about this book is that it's not your typical mystery or thriller. Yes, there are elements of that here. Kepnes writes a story that has you wondering and questioning from beginning to end. She does a great job of establishing a cat and mouse narrative where you root for both of them to succeed which adds a lot to the drama and adventure. But there was more too it then that. There is kind of a science fiction/horror element here. It's inspired by an H.P. Lovecraft story so that should give you some indication of what we are working with. And Kepnes did a great job of weaving the two together to craft an engaging and interesting story.

The book alternates perspectives between Jon, Chloe, and Eggs. This is kind of hit or miss for me but here it worked. The first half of the book is just Chloe and Jon. When Jon gets kidnapped Chloe, his best friend, is pining for him. It's a sweet story of friendship and seeing both perspectives you want them to reunite. But the really interesting part is when Eggs joins the narrative. There is a lot of mistaken intentions and misunderstandings that make the book full of conflict and drama. But I also think this was aided by the fact that for most of the book I listened to the audiobook and each character had a different narrator. They all did a really good job. I picked up the audio because Jon is narrated by MacLeod Andrews who I love, but I also really enjoyed the narrator for Eggs. He had the perfect Rhode Island accent. It wasn't too over the top and I loved that. Plus he has narrated some Lovecraft which was extra cool.

Kepnes also did a great job with establishing the characters. I loved in You how she was able to get you to sympathize with a serial killer, and in this book she gets you to sympathize with two different people who are on opposite ends of the conflict. It's not hard to sympathize with Jon. He was kidnapped and the backlash from what happened to him has crazy consequences. It was cool seeing him grow and develop throughout the book and become a little bit more grey in what he was doing morally. Eggs however lives in the grey. These are the types of characters who are doing the wrong thing for the right reasons or the right things for the wrong reasons. But either way, those are the kinds of characters that I love reading about.

I also really appreciated the setting of this book. As I said before, I live in Providence and I was a little nervous that this book wouldn't capture the city that I love but I think that it didn't. The entire book didn't take place in Providence, but the part in the city was great. There were landmarks that I recognized and she captured what it is like living in a college town (they are sometimes as annoying as she let on). Kepnes must be familiar with the city or she did her research. Either way I really appreciated that. Her books are usually show a lot of affection for New England and I appreciated that.

On the whole this was a really good read. It didn't blow me away like You and Hidden Bodies did but it still struck a cord emotionally. It had a lot of conflict and an engaging plot, great characters, and a setting that I really enjoyed.

I give You by Caroline Kepnes 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. I would definitely recommend this to fans of more mysteries or want to try something with subtle science fiction/fantasy elements. It's also a good book if you like reading thrillers with dubious characters.

Have you read Providence? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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